Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Audition that Saved my Life

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,  for those who are called according to his purpose.  For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers."
 (Romans 8:28-29)

This is the first post I'm making in "a series of remembrance."  Although I hope that this is an encouragement to you all, this is probably more for me than anyone else.  Walking with Christ is hard, particularly when our hearts are hard-wired to run away from Him.  It's so easy to forget His faithfulness and goodness, so my hope is to make much of Jesus as I look back at key events in my life.  Some of these will be mountain-top experiences, some of these will look at God's sovereign hand working in my life during hard times, some of them will just be mundane life.  This story was key in my conversion to Christ: it was the audition that saved my life.  

It was my Sophomore Year at Muhlenberg College, and I was excited to go back and prove myself even further as an actor in their now top-ranked theater program.  I had all ready gotten some big breaks, I was in an a capella group called the Acafellas, I had gotten into a show my freshman year, and was being trained by our choir director in voice, one of the best vocal teachers I had ever had.  

The first couple weeks of the Fall Semester was always the big audition week, there were four or five shows I would audition for the entire semester.  So I prepared, got ready, and auditioned.  The callbacks were posted, and I was called back for three shows.  I was amazed!  I could only get one (I think that was a department rule.), but I knew I had a huge shot to land a big time role.  The one I really wanted, however, was to be an understudy in the Fall Musical, Caberet.  The reason: the role was going to be played by a professional actor.  I had an opportunity to learn from an equity actor!  

I went to the first auditions (for the other two shows), and as luck would have it, I started suffering from a migraine as we started.  There was no way I was able to give it my all in those auditions. 

It was ok, though, I still had one more audition.  It was for caberet, and it was a singing audition.  Dancing was suspect, I was a decent actor, so if I had a strong quality, vocals would have been it.  I went in feeling fully healthy, and the music started.  If I called it a train wreck, that would be unfair to the phrase.  Out of 16 (or 32) measures, I hit maybe 3 notes right.  It was the worst audition I had ever given.  What was worse, was that it was in front of the head of the department.  I couldn't believe it, I had just blown my opportunity. 

I remember sitting in my friends room (Amy and Danielle, both of whom I owe a deep thank you for their patience in caring for me as I sat broken and frustrated), feeling like I had this opportunity to prove myself and how great I could be, and instead I had failed again.  I was a nothing, a nobody, and all the value I thought I could win by making a show was now gone.  

Yet, it was the audition that was the proverbial "straw" that broke the camel's back.  I had friends, I was still in a music group, and yet not getting the thing I wanted proved something to me:  I was deeply discontent.  I was in college, pursuing a degree that I wanted, with friends that I cared about, why was I so discontent?  

God answered that question later, but the thing that He did was He removed any excuse for me to not go to the Muhlenberg Chapter of DiscipleMakers Christian Fellowship (DCF).  Many of my friends had been inviting me to DCF for a couple of weeks, and I realized I wouldn't be able to go with show rehearsals going on.  Suddenly, that excuse was no longer viable.  So, I went.  And God used it to change the course of my life forever.  

I had always heard the adage that if I didn't get a part, just to try harder, to show that I was good enough.  But what God did was He removed my need to be valuable by showing me that I was all ready valuable, all I needed was to trust in Christ.  Because God gave up His only Son not only to forgive my sins, but to be adopted as a Son (Romans 8:15).  Years later, I lost my passion to be a great actor because it was fueled only by my idolatry of pride and self-centeredness, wanting to be seen as valuable.  

Now, I sing because I love to sing (not that I don't struggle with these things still).  I'm freed to be far more joyful in singing to sing and worship Christ with it.  I look back on this moment and wonder, "what if I hadn't bombed the audition?"  Maybe I wouldn't have gotten the part anyway.  Or maybe I would have and never gotten to attend DCF, where I would have understood the Gospel for the first time.  

Either way, God used this awful audition for my good, and I praise Him that while I hated it (and Him) for a little while, He truly did use it for my good.  In fact, it redirected the course of my life.  

Saturday, May 10, 2014

A series of remembrance

"My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
    and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,  
when I remember you upon my bed,
    and meditate on you in the watches of the night; 
 for you have been my help, 
 and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy." -- Psalm 63:5-7

As I've been thinking about my relationship with God, one thing I'm realizing is how I just don't take time to remember Him, who He is, His marvelous deeds, and His unparalleled wisdom, and how that has particularly intersected into my life.  Because of that, it's been easy for me to forget both His goodness to me, as well as easy to forget what He has brought me through and what He has saved me from.  

As I did a simple search on the verb "remember," bible gateway turned up 234 individual verses in which the verb was used.  Multiple verses had the word in it more than once.  Sometimes it had to do with God "remembering" His people, but even more so it had to do with His people remembering Him, God commanding His people to remember Him and His deeds, and the consequences of not remembering Him.    

As it turns out, it seems like the theme of remembrance is a key one in the scriptures.  So, my hope as I think through this blog, is to remember some key moments in my life to reflect on who God is, what He has done personally in my life, and how it could apply to the here and now. 

My guess is some of these things will be major life events.  Others, probably not as much.  In fact, there have probably been more moments of being stuck in the muck where I've seen Jesus painstakingly walk alongside me, rather than high highs and low lows.  I don't share these to highlight my greatness or the triumphs I've had (and mostly haven't had).  Rather, I hope as I take time to remember the works of our great God, it is an encouragement to me and to all of you who see the God of the universe who takes time to intercede both in the big moments, as well as the little moments of life.  

I hope you enjoy this as I pursue Jesus to escape the false comforts that I so easily become entangled too.  

In His Grace,